Finally, a spectacle grander than an Ambani shaadi. We presume you had better things to do with your weekend than watch the coronation. So here’s a tongue-in-cheek guide to everything you missed. Splainer: We can make anything entertaining! Lol.
The basic deets
The coronation of King Charles III on Saturday took four hours—and cost an estimated £100 million, or roughly $125 million.
In attendance: 2,200 including heads of state, such as French President Emmanuel Macron—and celebs like Lionel Richie. Joe Biden didn’t attend but sent his spouse Jill. Modi-ji was busy shutting down traffic in Bangalore. Yes, Harry made a cameo appearance for a couple of hours—hanging with his cousins in the back row. The award for best royal family appearance goes to Charles’ sister Princess Anne—who was assigned the status of honorary bodyguard—aka Gold Stick-in-Waiting (you cannot make this stuff up):
Our vote for best foreign overseas royalty goes to His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and Lady Julia of Ghana—who really know how to bring it:
Best celeb appearance: Katy Perry’s hat:
The crown: Actually, Charles wore two crowns during the ceremony. The first was the more low-key St. Edward’s Crown—for the actual coronation here:
He later swapped it out for the grandly named Imperial State Crown—set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls:
The British public: came out in strength to celebrate the coronation:
But the Scots weren’t impressed:
Neither were Liverpool fans:
The decisive data point: More Brits (29 million) watched his mum’s funeral on telly than Charles’ coronation—which could only attract a peak of 20 million.
The coronation: More of the old
For all that talk of Charles’ desire to have a ‘pared down’ modern ceremony, there were plenty of age-old displays of excess—like this insane gold stagecoach—used for the coronation of every British monarch since William VI in 1830. Despite the bling, it is poorly padded and tough on the royal behind, according Charles’ mum Queen Elizabeth II—who once described her coronation journey as “horrible”:
Also quaint: The anointment of Charles with holy oil—which takes place behind a screen—and marks the communion of King and God. The rite dates back to the coronation of King Edgar in A.D. 973. FWIW, the screen is new and was specially commissioned by Charles. As you can see, each leaf has the name of a Commonwealth nation embroidered on it. His ancestors had an empire; Charles must make do with a (wishful thinking) tree:
Seriously out of date: The ‘Sovereign’s Orb’—which is covered in jewels, topped with a cross—and split into three sections to represent the three-known continents during the Middle Ages. It symbolises the English sovereign’s power over earth. Ah well, a delusional orb is better than nostalgic flora:
The coronation: Bit of the new
The actual ceremony was a snappy one hour—as opposed to the traditional 8-hour marathon. And the guest list was quarter the length of previous coronations. Charles also did his best to add some 21st century touches.
Example #1: Recycling! The invitation cards were on recycled paper. Also, most amusingly, thrifting—as this unintentionally funny Reuters report declares:
Britain's King Charles, who has spent a lifetime campaigning for sustainability and against a throwaway economy, will wear clothing previously worn by his predecessors, including his mother and grandfather, for his coronation next week.
Example #2: Diversity. Charles did his best to undo some of the blatant Christian symbolism—tweaking one of his official titles ‘Defender of the Faith upholding the rights of the Church of England’.
The king was anointed, per tradition, as defender of the faith but nodded to Britain’s multiculturalism by praying to be “a blessing to all … of every faith and belief.” Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders blessed the king at the abbey door.
Female bishops from the Church of England took part in the liturgy. And the music specially selected by Charles for the ceremony included a Black gospel choir.
Example #3: Camilla. We’ve come a long way since young Charles was expected to marry a virginal bride of royal stock. That a divorcee—and infamous ‘adulterer’—was accepted as the Queen Consort is surely a sign of progress. That they look like escapees from a Florida retirement home playing dress up is besides the point. (see: lead image)
Example #4: PDA. Prince William did the traditional thing and pledged his loyalty to the king—but then leaned over to tenderly kiss his old man on the cheek. Charles looked a bit teary-eyed. Aww!
Accidentally modern: This photo of Charles and Camilla watching the Royal Air Force—which drew the usual jokes about gender reveal parties:)
The coronation: Something borrowed stolen
Of course, it wouldn’t be a royal bash without shameless displays of colonial plunder. Along with the Sovereign Orb, Charles also flaunted the Sovereign’s Sceptre—a three-foot gold rod, encrusted with a diamond cut from the largest diamond ever discovered. It was “taken”—quite literally—to Britain from South Africa in 1907. South Africans have been demanding its return for years.
Small mercies: The Koh-i-noor—which is embedded in the Queen Mother’s coronation crown—didn’t make an appearance. According to tradition, Camilla would have been in line to wear it as the Queen Consort—but she wore a more modest crown—with 2,200 smaller diamonds.The palace decided it was best to hide it away in the Tower of London—where it is described as a “symbol of conquest.” Not theft?
Point to note: Two days ahead of the coronation, campaigners from 12 Commonwealth countries wrote to Charles urging him to apologise for British colonialism—which he did not. But it hardly matters since not many Commonwealth nations accept Charles as their king. And given the growing mutiny in Australia and Caribbean nations that number will dwindle even further.
The bottomline: Charles’ coronation could be the last for the British monarchy. It is history in every sense of the word. Though for the most part, it reminded us (and Prince Louis) why the royalty is a bit of a yawn:
Vox has more on colonial coronation bling—and a guide to the ceremony. If you take your royal bling seriously, then we recommend TIME’s guide to the symbolism of royal icons. We thought this reel of Charles as a little boy was very sweet. The Guardian explains why the coronation is literally history—i.e the last of its kind. This Washington Post column argues that the coronation may backfire on the royal family. People has a ‘best moments’ list—while the New York Times looks at the fashion.